Aggregated Assault by Online Newspapers

It's difficult to compete with free! But this is the challenge facing newspaper owners. William Dean Singleton, a newspaper publisher and chairman of the Associated Press, says online news aggregators are making him "mad as hell and we are not going to take it any more." reports MarketWatch. Such targets include the likes of Google and Digg, who are accused of linking to news stories without paying.

Firstly, news websites have RSS feeds for free. Why don't they just remove them? If Google is such a menace then they could block their spiders in their robots.txt file. But Google claims to send a billion clicks a month to originating news sources from their news aggregator. I guess Singleton and his rags could go get that traffic elsewhere. News aggregators are straw men set up by stuffed men. The real problem is supposedly the whole business model of paying for news.

Before the internet most people would buy a daily newspaper. If you worked or frequented a place that would buy all that day's newspapers then you could read a variety of versions of the same story and then make up your own mind. But for most people this wasn't the case. Over time they would stick to one, or maybe two, papers that they liked - newspapers that had the same world view as the reader. But this is the point: it is an illusion that newspapers sell news - what they sell is a social perspective on the news.

What newspapers sell is a spin on the news to further a particular social and political, even economic, point of view. News aggregators obviously in no way dilute the news; if anything they magnify what is popular. But what aggregators are doing is diluting the spin. A single reader may end up on a dozen different originating news websites, each for a different story. The coherent spin is thereby lost. That's what newspapers want back - their spin-wagon.

Let's see how their "business model" will adapt to this internet landscape whilst reclaiming their influence as propaganda organs. I've said this before, but it puts a new light on why newspapers, in the shape of media companies, are buying into the social networking model. It also shows why the ultimate owners of many media companies have nothing to do with entertainment per se. It is not just the obvious advertising to get you to buy products, but the content itself is advertising to make you buy into their world view.
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